SNP ministers are considering issuing a formal plea to the British Army and hiring a second cruise ship to house Ukrainian refugees , after Nicola Sturgeon's flagship "super sponsor" scheme descended into chaos.
The Telegraph understands that Scottish government officials have discussed the highly usual step of making a Military Aid to Civil Authorities (MACA) request to the Ministry of Defence, due to fears thousands of people fleeing the Russian invasion will arrive in Scotland with nowhere to go.
Meanwhile, the Scottish government is also believed to be exploring hiring a second cruise ship, which would be based on the Clyde, despite controversy over sending Ukrainians to live on a vessel which has already docked in Edinburgh, which has windowless rooms more cramped than prison cells .
While no formal MACA request has yet been made to the military, discussions about the move are believed to have taken place between Scottish and UK Government staff.
Almost 30,000 visas have been issued under the "super sponsor" initiative, but despite fewer than 9,000 arriving in Scotland as of last week, there is a lack of housing for them to be placed in.
Several hundred refugees are arriving into the country every week, having already been granted permission, before the scheme was axed last month. The Scottish government said on Wednesday night that it was "exploring all options" to solve the crisis.
Monica Lennon, the Scottish Labour MSP, said: "These developments show just how badly the Scottish government has handled the Homes For Ukraine Super Sponsor Scheme.
"Ukrainian families fleeing Putin's terror deserve the best possible accommodation and support, rather than the half-baked measures the SNP is currently offering.
"SNP ministers must get a grip of this crisis and ensure people seeking sanctuary are treated with dignity."
MACA requests are usually made in response to major emergencies, such as flooding disasters or the coronavirus pandemic, and the military only agrees to get involved when a public body "lacks the capability" to fulfil a task.
MoD officials are believed to be braced for a formal request from the Scottish government, but there is confusion within the UK Government about what meaningful help the military could provide.
The army does not have a large amount of spare accommodation in Scottish barracks, raising the prospect that it could be asked to set up temporary camps.
The Scottish Government has previously warned that councils could be forced to place refugees in "camp beds in community settings" due to a lack of suitable accommodation.
Ms Sturgeon suggested UK Government ministers lacked humanity by failing to do enough to provide visas to Ukrainian refugees and successfully pushed for her administration to be allowed to directly "sponsor" applications to come to the UK.
It meant individuals would be granted a visa more quickly as they would not have to wait to be matched with an individual willing to share their homes, with responsibility falling on the Scottish government to find them temporary accommodation until a more permanent solution was found.
SNP ministers have provided £5 million to refurbish disused high-rises in Lanarkshire , which had been due to be demolished, in a bid to bring 200 flats back into use.
Ian Murray, the shadow Scottish secretary said: "The collapse of Scotland's Super Sponsor scheme is a gross betrayal by the SNP and we need to get it up and running again – but not by cutting more corners on accommodation.
"The SNP's decision to house refugees on cruise ships was a disgrace, and it beggars belief that they are doubling down on this shameful plan.
"It would be grossly inappropriate to force people fleeing war to live in army barracks, and the SNP must rule this out."
A spokeswoman for the Scottish government said that it was "exploring all options to provide safe and secure accommodation as part of its warm Scottish welcome to displaced Ukrainian people seeking shelter".
He said: "However, no formal request has been made to the Ministry of Defence to help house displaced people from Ukraine."
The cruise ship in Edinburgh had "received a very positive reception from the people on board", he added.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: "The Ministry of Defence has not received a formal request from the Scottish government to provide assistance with accommodating refugees.
"Under the Military Aid to the Civil Authorities process, Defence always stands ready to respond to requests from civil authorities in line with established principles."
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